I don’t know why but I feel like this year is a start of better things in my life. I feel like I can do more and better things with my life.
I had a different experience in the month of January. I know I was busy complaining about the cold German weather but the month of January was even worse than ever before; it was freezing cold. I was really excited to see the snow. I was even playing in it and taking photos, but that didn’t last for more than two day. After two day I was annoyed and freezing cold.
I was wearing onion layers (many layers of clothes) but still I could feel the cold. I actually think I was feeling the cold in my bones. There was a time when myself and my mentor spent two hours outside of a place like home affairs early in the morning and I was freezing to death. I couldn’t feel toes and my body was numb. I’ve never seen a black person turning red, but that day I turned red. I thought that was my last day on earth. I almost cried, but just when I was feeling like crying the doors were opened, we got in that place and I was sitting on top of the radiator. After all this experience I am now enjoying 7 degrees like summer. I am glad that January is over and the weather is getting better.
Caroline and Henrike came to visit me. I was so happy to see them again after a long time. I took them for little tour around Bremen and we went to have dinner together it was really nice to spend time with them.
I am still working at the office, learning new things each and everyday, on the 29th of January I was in Nienburg, a rural place. I’ve never seen a rural place like that in Germany ever before. There was no phone signal and there is no transport system. It is a quite place. I don’t think I will survive for more than two days in a place like that. I went there with my manager. We were facilitating the intercultural exchange workshop for Borda (another organisation under weltwärts).
I will be coming home soon, in three months time and I can’t wait, but I’m also having fun here Germany on my last few month. Till next time...
Hallo everyone. Hope you all had wonderful Christmas and a good start this year (2016). My festive season was amazing this side. It was all about fun, I got great gifts for my birthday and amazing birthday party. 2015 was truly a wonderful year for me I experienced quite a lot of things.
Germany Christmas time is amazing. They truly have the vibe for it, they have Christmas markets where you can get a whole lot of Christmas things, I tried my first non-alcoholic Glühweine (hot cooked Christmas wine). As econtur staff we went for ice-skating, it was my first and last time. I was scared to death and I am glad I didn’t break my legs but it was a bit fun.
I spend my Christmas in the north German island of Sylt. It is really close to Denmark. It is known as an island for rich people. My mentor Birgit is from there so I spent my Christmas with her family. That place is amazing. It was windy and cold, but refreshing. The beautiful thing is, it really small we did a tour all around the island in two days. We went for indoor swimming and soon I felt like a princess in that island. I wish to stay there forever. We came back to Bremen for New Years Eve and it was fun but I was kind of sick. We were listening to Ukhozi FM and I went to bed after 2:00.
That all about my last month of 2015, I am now looking forward to 2016.
Change is not an easy thing. Being away from home, from my loved ones, away from my umbilical cord was not easy at first, but has brought up a good change in me. I have learned independence; I have learned to deal with challenges and to grow. Sitting here in this moment I am looking back on where I have been in life, on how I used to do things, on how I use to handle challenges, how I use to become easily irritated and how I use to run to my parents whenever I thought I am having hard times in life. Time flies, I can´t believe I am halfway through my stay in Germany, but can still remember my first day. I can remember having a hard time to adapt to the system, language and the city of Bremen.
This month I have good and sad stories to share with you all, I have spent some time with some teenagers from Durban, they came here to participate in the pass book competition. We did a city tour with them. I went to Berlin in a German-African-youth-initiative workshop. I was so privileged to be part of it. I got to meet interesting people from other parts of Africa as well as Germany. The workshop was based on making future plans for Germanan and African partnership.
At one moment I felt bad to hear other Africans saying that they don´t consider South Africa as one of the African countries because South Africa is more privileged and South Africans have pride. I had to defend my county, but you can think how hard it was for me because this argument reached to the xenophobic attacks and I was the only South African there.
I enjoyed my stay in Berlin sleeping in a 5 star hotel, but on my last day I lost my phone, I was picked pocketed. I couldn´t believe it, but that did not stop me from getting to know about the Berlin wall history and to get to see the parliament and some memorial sights. I am so grateful to have Birgit as my mentor; she is the one who took me for sightseeing in Berlin.
One member of the incomers from Durban went back to South Africa on the 30th of November. I was jealous of her, I wished that I was the one who is coming back home. It was not easy to say goodbey. I thought about lots of things. The cold German weather and it is getting worse from day to day. I thought about my Birthday on the 7th of December and I will be turning 21. I don´t even know what to do on my birthday here since the weather has become terrible in this time of the year here in Germany. People here don´t care so much about the 21st birthday. To them it the same as all other birthdays. But the Christmas vibe has already started. Many houses and shops are already decorated for Christmas and the city at night looks really beautiful, even though it is cold. But I am looking forward to experiencing the German Festive Season.
Wow. I am back in Germany for a month already. Back home after 11 months in South Africa, working for WhizzKids United. My journey back was very strange. Even on my last day in SA, the 10th of September, I still could not believe that I had to go. That place was home for me. I had so many great, sad, interesting, exciting, funny and happy moments there and I also had my daily routine. To leave WhizzKids and to leave the life behind me which I built up for one year just felt unreal. It broke my heard to say goodbye to all my friends and colleagues.
And then I came home to Germany and expected me to feel like a stranger, who probably changed its personality and attitude. But nothing like this happened so far. My family, friends and boyfriend welcomed me straight away and as soon as I was surrounded by so many familiar people, I just felt like I have never been gone. However, it took some days to actually realize, that I left SA for good and that my life continues in Germany now. And I enjoyed things I missed too much during this year: Talking in my mother tongue “franconian”, having loooong days with sunset at about 9 o´clock, chatting with my best friends while sitting right next to them, sleeping as long as I want to without stressing that I will miss out something very exciting, eating German bread and walking around at night on my own. Everything was so familiar and easy that I had no problems to fall back in my old routines. The easy adjustments also lead to the fact, that my time in Africa lost credibility. My stay abroad felt like a big dream, unreal and too good to be true. Strange, hey? I just came back but still cannot believe that I have been there.
Anyway, time went on and I had a great time with Nana, a South African girl who spends one year in Bremen. She came down to the south of Germany to visit me for five days. Together we went out, did some tourist-stuff and spent a lot of time to do some preparations and to participate at a traditional harvest festival. It was so much fun for me to change sides and make her to experience our traditions, make her wear a “dirndl” and show her around in the area. It was amazing as Nana is open to everything new and a very kind and cute person. As a tradition we carved and hollowed out pumpkins to light them in the dark with candles. I wrote “Ngisekhaya” on mine. It’s the Zulu word for “I am home”. Which is true: I feel like home. But on the other side I miss Africa now. I miss all my friends and colleagues: Sli singing her songs all day long, Nobuhle asking about home visits, Sanele laughing out loud, Khe joking with the kids, Caroline telling Durban news, Siya calming me down, Clyde talking about gym… It was amazing to be abroad and to work at WhizzKids. They make it so easy for volunteers to feel home and welcome, even for me as a (in the beginning) shy and quiet person. Part of my heart will always stay in Africa. And I think this is how it should be. I am happy that I got the chance to experience all of this and learned to think outside the box. I hope that I can use all the developed skills and my knowledge in my further studies.
In conclusion, I never regret for a second that I went abroad. It helped me to become a stronger, more educated and more independent person. I see things with different eyes and appreciate some things much more than before. During the next months I will probably realize in random situations what I have learned and how my behavior changed. I am looking forward to this. But above all I won a family abroad – people who like me and miss me too. And I hope to get the chance to get back to meet my brothers and sisters soon.
I know every one is curious to know about what I have been up to this month. Well, everything is going quite, but as they always say there is no place like home. You can have all the fun in the world, but there is always that space in my heart that misses home, my family, friends and my boyfriend, or how can I forget WhizzKids Family.
But yet I am still learning and having fun this side. The weather is starting to get really cold in this country. I have already started wearing layers of clothes. I don’t even care about looking good anymore, but it’s funny because it not even winter, yet. I am so not looking forward to German winter, but anyway my skin is beautiful now, that’s what I like.
Want to know what I did this month? I participated in the seminar of the outgoing volunteers for two weeks. It was really nice to spend some time with them. I learned a lot from them, even though sometimes they spoke deep Deutsch that I couldn’t understand. That is still a challenge to me, it is not easy to learn this language. I can understand what they say but talking is not easy. I find myself saying “Ich sprech nicht Deutch” (I don’t speak German) or “Keine Ahnung” (I don’t know). I use these lines to avoid speaking German. It’s not because I don’t want to, but because it is hard for me to talk to some people.
Then I worked at the office, assisting my manager in some event planning. I have learned a lot from her in two weeks. She is an inspiration to me. It is nice to work with someone who appreciates your effort. I have been working a lot with excel and translating some documents from German to English (without Google it wasn’t easy), sitting in meetings taking notes, sharing ideas I have on event planning - that felt so good. Thanks to WhizzKids United’s Game Changers Programme because I learned all these ideas from it.
There was trade fair open day in the city center and I participated by playing the quizzes. I went to all the stations and won a lot of chocolate. Fair trade staff cost a lot hey, but I had all those costly chocolate for free on that day and I also won a voucher to buy anything I want in a fair trade shop just for guessing how many beans of coffee were there in a container.
Now, I am planning to go on holiday but you will here tell you more about that next month next month.
The first of week of this month (August) I was helping in a holiday program called WUUP,it teaches kids of 7 to 13 years of age about the environment and nature. They also play some fun educational games. I enjoyed myself there and I also learned new games from the kids.
On the second week I was helping in another holiday program (kinder wilderness) where kids are being taught to do sculptures using stones,wire and wood. This was part of learning for me as well ,I made a hippo and fish using a special stone. I sculptured a woman with wire. I also learned to polish a stone and to make a necklace out of it. The third week We had a seminar as the incoming volunteers to talk about our stay in Bremen so far, our personal, profetional and gerneral experiences, intercultural exchange and our expectations. I also learned to draft a proper business proposal in this seminar.
We went to Klimahaus (Climate house) with my Bremen family on Friday in Bremerhaven. It was my second time going their but I was still amazed by the different stations of different countries and shocked to see how climate change destroy the enviroment. And we went to Oldenburg to have a lunch at Sylvia and Fritz house (our bosses). They prepared lot of mouth watering food it was really great.
Even though I am having so much fun in this country, but I always find myself missing home, especially in this month of August. I wouldn´t say I am homesick, because to me it is not a sickness; it is simply about missing a place that is filled with loved ones.
This month I have had lot of fun here in Germany. I would first like to tell you about my participation in the Bremen Global Championship, which was at the Sportgarten. There were different schools participating in differnt stations and in our station we were playing South African indigenous games (Umlabalaba and three teen) with the Kids. It was amazing, the kids loved our games.
There were a few hot days in Bremen and we went to swim in a lake (a man made beach). It was nice, I really enjoyed those two sunny days in Bremen. Then there was a huge Bremen ferstival (Bremenale). I must say Bremen rocks. I have never seen an event with so many people in my whole entire life. It was amazing and the perfomance I liked most was the regay music perfomance by a Mexican group.
We were invited by Sylvia to Oldenburg for concert of Nomfusi, a South African Afrofussion singer, which was great. On that day it was raining hard, but because we were dancing and having fun we did not pay attention to the rain. Only after the concert was over I realised that I was soaked in water and I felt cold, but I could not do anything about it, because Bremen was far away from where we were. Sylvia took us to a restaurant where we had a nice coffee with a smile and that smile in the coffee made me forget that I was cold and my house is far from where Oldenburg is.
Then we went to visit different Organizations to see their work and to also try and get placements in the summer holidays programms that they have. Lucky enough we can partcipate for a week in each Organization and I have started my first week in Marßel - a youth sport club - this last week of July. It was amazing. I liked working with kids even though sometimes I struggled to understand them, but kids make sure that you get to understand what they want and that helped me to learn few new words from them. And I got lot of chocolate as a gift on my last day, and flowers and a drum.
Now I am living in a student Wohnhaus (residence), in a place called Fahr. I moved on thursday and I love my new room. It is nice and bright.
That all for now, I will give you guys more information at end of next month. Love you all.
June was basically the language course month. I spent four weeks in a language course which was a great experience and an opportunity to meet people from other countries like Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Lebanon, Libya, India, Mexico, South Korea etc. This gave me a chance to get to know other countries by having a chat with those guys. It was amazing. We were like a big family from different countries, because we all got along with each other so well. It was not easy at all to say goodbye on the last day of the language course (25 June).
About the German language itself - I can now have a conversation, but I don´t want to lie; sometimes I know what to say but it´s hard to put it in the right words. Especially when someone only wants to speak deutsch. I then just freeze and go: Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch (I speak a little German). But I try to get better.
On the morning of the 25th we did presentations about the organisations that we have been working with back home to some German school kids and their teachers. I really enjoy talking about WhizzKids United. There was one teacher who asked me if it is possible that we could do our presentations in schools and the kids liked the fact that there are organisations that work closely with communities. I think that it was a great thing to do and I noticed that German kids don´t know that some countries are not developed as Germany.
We had a nice trip to Kletterwald Kraxelmaxel in Oldenburg. It was a great experience. I always thought that I am afraid of height, but I think I was fooling myself. It was simply because I have never got a chance to test myself before. I am saying this because when I got there, I got too excited. I kept trying and trying different levels and it was an amazing experience. I would like to get a chance to do it again I wouldn´t let it pass me by.
We also went to see the beautiful Sportgarten. It is a unique place for people to come and play. It has a skating court, basketball field, two soccer fields and beach volleyball. It is awesome place. I liked it from the first sight. It is a wonderful place. I know skating is not a popular thing in S.A, but here you can find a 6 year old skating and you can see that kids enjoy this. What I liked the most is that parents are also part of it. Some come and play with their kids and even if they are not playing, they can just stay around. It is not like they are being forced to do it, because they can just drop their kids and fetch them later, and some come on their own, but most parents are involved and they are responsible for their kids.
Ich mag Deutschland und Ich find Deutschland sehr schön. (I like Germany and I find Germany very beautiful)
What an exciting journey we had in this first season of the Mixed Gender League. The league uses the football3 methodology, which was a new thing for our youth. I believe the 2014 Football for Hope Festival in Brazil, where I represented my country as a Young Leader and mediator and where I had to lead integration together with the mediators from around the world, taught me to bring home and implement what I learnt. It created a big change and a wonderful break for a lot of countries around the world.
The recruitment started and there was no turning back for me from being the coordinator of such a big programme. I was working with an awesome team - Game Changers and Sanele Nsele, the Homework Coordinator. The first season started, we were working with 8 schools, 8 teams, 4 boys and 4 girls each, and a total number of 64 participants for the season. It was difficult at first having to go to each school explaining to them the concept and the aims of the Mixed Gender League. Some schools wanted to be part of the league but couldn’t because of transport issues and the distance, so we had to keep pushing and find other schools. One school told us they would be part of the league but when the date came for them to play they didn’t show up, but that didn’t stop us we had to keep going and we did until we completed it and we had 8 schools.
Once the ball was kicked for the first match, the teams started understanding the rules and the ways of football3, teaching them about gender equity, fair play rules, and working as a team to achieve a common goal. Every Tuesday and Thursday the teams showed up. Even the teachers came to watch their particular teams perform. This was encouraging to see that there was support from the school body as well.
The final day of the Mixed Gender League was on the 12th of June. It was amazingly positive how the players reflected the spirit of teamwork and respect. At the end, it was amazing to hear the participants’ overall feedback on what they learnt from our Mixed Gender League.
We did our work perfectly well. I was an amazing development from the challenges to the achievements of the whole idea of Mixed Gender League. The excitement still hasn’t gone down on us. It has been really amazing. The two teams from the final had the same amount of points after the league matches and the game went penalties after a 1-1 draw after regular time. The heroics of the Edendale Tech goalkeeper won it for his team. He saved 3 consecutive penalties. He even had to step up for his team and scored his penalty. The sport teachers of both schools were there in the action to support their teams.
After the match the teams were both awarded gold medals and a beautiful orange football for the school. The team from Mehlokazulu finished the league in 3rd place and received silver medals. There was a lot of singing and celebrations in the stands from the supporters, singing traditional Zulu songs of victory. It created a very positive vibe to the match and the Health Academy as a whole. The teachers of the two finalists also received medals as a token of appreciation to their interest and support!
I am ready for the next season.
My name is Franziska Distler and I am a German volunteer at WKU. I am very lucky to get the opportunity to spend almost one year in South Africa. The longer I am here, the more I have gotten involved in the WhizzKids United programs and the more I am learning.
As a 23-year old girl who just came out of university without much work-experience, I get the chance to explore my strengths and weaknesses in a nice working environment. Most of my time I spend on organizing our life-skill program for students “On The Ball” and our weekly “School Shuttle Service” we just introduced. These tasks make me stay in close contact with principals and teachers around our Health Academy so I am quite often busy driving with colleagues to schools to promote our programs, bring invitations and organize ongoing procedures. Once a week our counselors visit some clients at their homes for ongoing care. I go with them pretty often. Together with the school visits it makes me spend a lot of time outside the office and in the community, which I really appreciate. It allows me to get a deeper insight in the living conditions and people´s life in the Township outside our safe and beautiful WhizzKids United area.
It also shows me directly which problems, fears and worries especially young kids have to face and how they sometimes struggle with their lives. I have never been so close to so much sorrow and poverty. It makes me infinitely sad to sit next to some kids and see them smiling while I know exactly that they are just pretending to be happy. They are suffering from violence, rape, abuse and serious diseases like HIV and TB. But at the same moment I am also very happy and proud to work for our organization which provides kids help and support. I`m convinced that our staff and especially the counselors are doing an awesome job and it calms me a lot to know that they take care of these kids with all their heart.
Besides that I am learning a lot about the Zulu-culture here in Edendale. Especially when we are organizing events you can see the differences in the working practices which makes me aware of characteristics of myself, I never thought about. Before I came to South Africa 8 months ago I strongly disagreed to be a “typical German” – but the longer I am here I have to confess that it is challenging me a lot not to have the same understanding about timing, planning and responsibilities. I don´t condemn the way people are working here, I rather try to see everything as a chance to learn. And I´m sure that it can only benefit me even in Germany to be more flexible, less stressed and optimistic that everything will go like planned – if it´s not plan A: Who cares?
The best parts of WKU are definitely the staff-members and I like all of them. In the mornings I am looking forward to go to work and it´s very nice to spend time with these guys, no matter if they are management-members, counselors, nurses or football coaches. They are the ones who make our organization such a nice place and motivate the youth to spend time here. I´m also living with international volunteers from WhizzKids United which gives allows me to be part of an awesome team even in our leisure time.
About my stay here in South Africa and especially about my time at WhizzKids United I can basically say, that it was the best decision I could have made after my studies. Of course like everybody else I have good and bad times and face some challenges. But I see myself growing a lot and it makes me unbelievably proud. I wanted to challenge myself to see what I am able to do and I don´t want to miss one single second or experience.